Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, who is mired in double-digit deficits in every national poll and who has lost the support of several conservative-Christian groups, began running advertisements on Christian radio stations around the nation which said "America suffers from a moral crisis, But the problem isn't in your house.... The problem is in the White House. Bill Clinton's White House....It is part of a whole liberal agenda like gays in the military. And condoms for school kids." What a surprise! Dole attacking Clinton on his support for lesbians and gays.
In the face of this sleazy attack-ad, President Clinton's campaign responded with an ad that says, "The President signed the Defense of Marriage Act, supports curfews and school uniforms to teach our children discipline." Network co-chair Eric Bauman said, "What a surprise! Clinton signed DOMA, did anybody think it wasn't insurance against just such a sleazy attack."
For months now, the right-wing extremists in the Dole/Gingrich camp have been trying to make lesbians and gays the focus and the wedge issue of the 1996 elections. In early May, Ralph Reed, head of the Christian Coalition, told the New York Times that "gay marriage would be the number one issue of the November election." The Republicans quickly introduced the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the House of Representatives, and Dole became the lead sponsor in the Senate. In fact, Dole told a meeting of Christian conservatives that "DOMA didn't go far enough."
Bauman said "Unfortunately for Reed, Dole, Gingrich, and the rest of the right-wing Republicans, Clinton quickly announced he would sign the bill. While this angered many in the lesbian and gay community, it took the issue off the front pages and denied the Republicans the thing they wanted and needed most: a wedge issue to divide Americans. They hoped to divert attention from a nation that is moving forward, with a strong, growing, economy, the lowest unemployment, inflation, and interest rates in years, and a Republican presidential candidate with a clueless campaign and a GOP Congress that most Americans believe are extremists bent on destroying the environment, education, Medicare and Medicaid, and refocus the attention on issues like homosexuality and the President's character."
Bauman continued "While it is unfortunate and perhaps outrageous that Clinton signed DOMA, this act took away the Dole/Gingrich hopes for the 1996 election." During the Republican love-fest in San Diego, The Republicans adopted a homophobic platform that says "We reject the distortion of [Federal Civil Rights] laws to cover sexual preference, and we endorse the Defense of Marriage Act....We oppose Bill Clinton's assault on the culture and traditions of the Armed Forces, especially his attempt to lift the ban on homosexuals in the military. We affirm that homosexuality is incompatible with military service."
According to a press release from Log Cabin, at the same time the Dole/Gingrich convention was adopting its anti-gay platform, Dole told Log Cabin he would not attack gays and lesbians during his campaign and would not undo President Clinton's positive steps taken on behalf of the gay community. Log Cabin promptly endorsed Dole, ignoring his 30 year anti-gay Congressional record.
Bauman said "With Dole's campaign flailing, and traditional Republican groups like the Christian Action Network publicly running away from him, it is no surprise he began running ads on Christian radio attacking America's first pro-gay President for his attempts (no matter how unsuccessful) to lift the ban on gays in the military. So much for his promise to Log Cabin not attack gays."
Meanwhile, President Clinton has recently spent much effort to ensure significant increases in AIDS funding, and refused to sign the Immigration Reform bill if it contained Republican amendments to deport immigrants with AIDS. Clinton also has been proudly and publicly touting his support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and just this past weekend became the first President ever to visit the AIDS Memorial Quilt, while it was on display in Washington.
Bauman continued "It is disingenuous for the likes of Rich Tafel to attack Clinton for signing Dole's Defense of Marriage Act, Republicans created it and Republicans pushed it. While 90 percent of Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of ENDA, 90 percent of Republicans voted against it. It was Bill Clinton and Al Gore who worked the phones trying to enlist Senate support for ENDA and it was Bill Clinton's Vice President who stood by ready to break a tie vote to pass ENDA."
While DOMA is a black eye for the gay community, this President's record on lesbian and gay issues is unsurpassed, let us review and compare the records:
Bill Clinton became the first President ever to endorse federal civil rights legislation for gay people. Bob Dole opposes the "distortion of federal civil rights laws to cover sexual preference."
Bill Clinton has appointed over 100 openly gay officials to his administration, including Roberta Achtenberg and Bruce Lehman as cabinet assistant secretaries. Bob Dole had no openly gay staff and voted against Roberta Achtenberg's Senate confirmation.
Bill Clinton appointed America's first openly gay federal judge, and appointed the two Supreme Court Justices whose votes provided the margin of victory in the Colorado Amendment 2 case. Bob Dole and Jack Kemp opposed and criticized that Supreme Court ruling and have vowed to appoint judges like Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork, bitter opponents of gay rights.
President Clinton became the first President to implement sexual orientation non-discrimination policies in federal employment, and ended the use of sexual orientation as means of denying security clearances. Dole has not said publicly what he would do. Although his Senate office had a non-discrimination policy, he never employed anyone who was openly gay.
President Clinton has fought for major increases in AIDS funding since becoming president, overall a 56 percent increase since his inauguration. He created the office of AIDS policy director, the Office of AIDS Research at NIH, the office of AIDS Housing at HUD, and has given a national address on AIDS. Bob Dole never speaks of AIDS, voted in favor of Sen. Jesse Helms' amendment to freeze Ryan White funds, voted in favor of the Helms' amendment to cut off funding for gay community organizations providing AIDS services, and voted to cut off federal funds to local schools with programs aimed at preventing HIV.
President Clinton sponsored a national conference to examine the causes of and solutions to gay youth suicide. Bob Dole voted to cut off funding to local schools with programs aimed at preventing anti-gay violence, and preventing gay-teen suicide.
In addition to the above, President Clinton vetoed Republican attempts to dismantle Medicaid, slash Medicare by $270 billion, gut environmental protections, and grossly reduce federal assistance for education. Dole voted in favor of each of these bills. The President supported and signed into law the Family and Medical Leave act, the Brady Bill, the Assault Weapons ban, and has opposed all efforts to limit a woman's right to choose. Dole voted against Family and Medical Leave, against the Brady Bill, against the Assault Weapons ban, and has strongly favored a Constitutional amendment to limit a woman's right to choose.
Bauman concluded, "President Clinton may have signed DOMA and may even be cynically using it to shore up his support among moderate and conservative voters, but he has consistently and vocally been a strong ally of the lesbian and gay and HIV-affected community's. Bob Dole is our enemy, has always been our enemy, and will always be our enemy. The records speak for themselves."
On January 20th 1993, the doors to the White House opened for the first time to lesbian and gay Americans. Only by re-electing Bill Clinton can we keep those doors open!